The Supreme Court will hear a legal challenge to the government’s decision not to extend the £ 20 increase to those with “legacy” benefits to support them during the pandemic.
Beneficiaries at Universal Credit received an increase of £ 20 a week to help them during the Covid-19 crisis.
But the increase was not extended to include older services such as Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) – as campaign groups say disproportionately affected disabled people.
Two disabled people claiming ESA on Wednesday filed a challenge to the decision of the Department of Work and Pensions at the High Court in London.
Their lawyers will claim that the government acted illegally by denying them the extra payments, and if the challenge succeeds, nearly two million people could receive up to £ 1,500 in backdated payments.
Prior to the hearing, disabled people and advocates will gather outside the Royal Courts in support of the case.
Members of the Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) and the Disability Benefits Consortium (DBC) – a network of over 100 organizations including Z2K, MS Society, MND Association and Leonard Cheshire – are expected to hold a meeting to demand justice for those who were denied additional support.
Lynn Pinfield, 51, from West Lothian, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2018 and is unable to work due to her condition.
She claims ESA so she was denied the £ 20 lifeline given to UC creditors.
In a statement prior to the hearing, she said: “Everyone on benefits should be treated equally. They have made me feel that people with disabilities do not matter.
“During the pandemic, prices rose steadily, but the benefits remained the same, which was a struggle. With everyone at home all the time, our bills rose sharply – our electricity bill doubled – and I had to pay it all myself without extra support.”
Anastasia Berry, of the DBC and MS Society, said: “It is utterly shameful that the government at the height of the pandemic, where the disabled needed help the most, turned their backs. Not only was this decision cruel, but it is clear, that it is discriminatory to deny one group of people extra financial support and create a two-part social security system.
“That’s why we’re encouraging people on older benefits to receive a backdated payment of the equivalent amount given to them on Universal Credit.”
Ella Abraham, from Z2K and DBC, said: “In the last 18 months, millions of disabled people, single parents and others on legacy benefits have been discriminated against and struggled to get food on the table without the £ 20 a week that increases them. Universal Credit received. “
Ellen Clifford said on behalf of the DPAC: “The inevitable costs of disability increased most as a direct consequence of the pandemic. In the sixth richest country in the world, no one should be left too poor to bathe, too poor to wash clothes, too poor to eat and heat.”
Campaigns will be gathered outside the court from kl. 9.00, and the hearing starts at. 10.30.
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